Survivors of child sexual abuse will have better access to justice under legislation introduced to Queensland Parliament by the Palaszczuk Government today.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 would improve the capacity of the justice system to provide fair access and outcomes to child sexual abuse survivors who wished to pursue a claim for civil damages for personal injury arising from the sexual abuse.
“The trauma that child sexual abuse survivors have suffered in their lives, and often continue to suffer, is unimaginable to many,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“The Palaszczuk Government wants to ensure - as much as possible - that survivors are not retraumatised as they seek the damages they rightfully deserve.
“These amendments to the Civil Liability Act are important steps forward in pursuing access to justice for those who have suffered child sexual abuse in institutions in Queensland.
“They come off the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s recommendations regarding civil litigation.”
Mrs D’Ath said the Bill imposes a duty on institutions to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual abuse of a child by a person associated with the institution while the child is under the institution’s care, supervision, control or authority.
“The institution will be taken to have breached its duty unless it can prove it took all reasonable steps to prevent the abuse, reversing the usual onus of proof,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“This is intended to address the power imbalance between the victim and the institution.
“To overcome the difficulties that a victim may face in identifying a proper defendant to sue, the Bill provides a statutory framework for the identification of a proper defendant that can meet any financial liabilities incurred by the institution.
“Where institutions fail to nominate a proper defendant, the court can order that the claim proceed against the trustees.
“The Palaszczuk Government has undertaken significant consultation with government, legal, church, educational, victims’ representatives and community organisations in drafting this legislation.
“I would like to thank all individuals and stakeholders who have contributed to the consideration of these issues.”
The legislation builds on earlier work by the Palaszczuk Government to improve survivors’ access to justice, with the removal of the limitation period, participation in the National Redress Scheme and the adoption of whole-of-government guidelines which set out how the State of Queensland and its agencies should respond to civil litigation by child sexual abuse survivors.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath